25th Anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda
April 7, 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The genocide left more than 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu dead and millions of Rwandans traumatized and in desolate conditions.
The genocide lasted 100 days, from April to July. During this period, all Rwandans remember both the tragedy and the failure of humanity to help save lives. General Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian UN peacekeeping commander in Rwanda at that time, is an eloquent witness of this situation, as demonstrated in the following quote from his book, Shake Hands with the Devil (2004).
Rwanda will never ever leave me. It’s in the pores of my body. My soul is in those hills, my spirit is with the spirits of all those people who were slaughtered and killed that I know of, and many that I didn’t know. … Fifty to sixty thousand people walking in the rain and the mud to escape being killed, and seeing a person there beside the road dying. We saw lots of them dying. And lots of those eyes still haunt me, angry eyes or innocent eyes, no laughing eyes. But the worst eyes that haunt me are the eyes of those people who were totally bewildered.
Most of the women and youth who survived the genocide still live with poverty, in challenging conditions and struggle with trauma. This is a critical and emotional time for the survivors because it reminds them of the loss of family members, friends and family properties, and violence and rape for some.
On the other hand, many women and youth related to the perpetrators of the genocide also live in poverty, dealing with shame and trauma due to violence. They too have experienced challenging circumstances both in Rwanda and in exile in neighbouring countries.
The 25th commemoration comes with traumatic crises but also with hope for the future. It is indeed joyful to realize that despite the destructive nature of the 1994 genocide, the post- genocide Rwanda has been characterized by impressive developments.
The government of Rwanda has managed to bring all Rwandans together to rebuild their country in all sectors of life, but especially in the areas of peace, unity and reconciliation. Though a small country, Rwanda is currently doing well economically in business, IT, tourism, environmental protection, education, health and more.
But there are still many vulnerable women and youth who are struggling with poverty and trauma and need support. Yego Rwanda was founded to help address their needs by providing healing retreats, counselling services, education and food support.
Yego Rwanda is looking forward, exploring ways of guiding and supporting women and youth to help them develop themselves, meet their needs and heal. Initiatives of interest include co-operatives, savings and lending, cooking, crafts-making and sewing.
Yego Rwanda is deeply grateful to our sister charity Yego Canada, and all who support our ministry, for being part of this crucial work and providing critical support.